The first rule of public speaking or public anything is to “Know thy audience.”
Selling (aka finding a solution to someone else’s problem) is a form of public speaking and one must know their audience when doing that sort of thing.
When selling (can we find a cooler word for that?) your show, your skills as an artisan, the company health insurance plan, or anything in between—you’ve got to take into account the person(s) with whom you’re speaking.
I’m going to make some obvious examples to illustrate my point:
- You’re selling a family-themed Christmas musical to the archdiocese of Minneapolis. While meeting with the nuns who are your potential buyers, you wouldn’t lace a few “F-bombs” into your speech.
- When selling your vegan soap line to a grocery store run by PETA activists, you wouldn’t mention the T-bone steak wrapped in bacon that you had for dinner last night.
Again, these are obvious examples. But there are more subtle examples that sway the other way. And the idea here is to learn the language of the person with whom you’re speaking. Become fluent in that language and converse with that person. Learn the dance of the natives is another way to put it.
I’ll bring up the Christmas musical I’m working on, once again. I’m trying to sell the show to churches. My initial reason for coming onto the project to write the English script and associate produce, was not to bring to light the true meaning of Christmas. However, I know that for someone else on my producing team, the thought of showing people the true meaning of Christmas is a big deal for them.
So, when I speak to the churches I make mention of that. “I’m speaking on behalf of Mr. X. and we want to remind people of the true meaning of Christmas.”
When selling to schools, I tell them “We want to educate Anglo and Latino children on the various Christmas traditions of Latin America.” Which is true. But again, not the prime reason why I came onto the project. Yet, it makes sense to sell the show this way to schools.
There are so many smaller or tangential stories you can tell that live inside the bigger one you’re working so hard to sell. It reminds me of the word game I played as a kid.
How many additional words can you make out of the word “Challenger”?
1) Challenge 2) hall 3) anger 4) all etc...
Do the research. Find all the words living inside the bigger word. Find all the angles. *Taking an improv class might help here also because sometimes you have to be able to think on your feet and create a (TRUTHFUL) substory out of thin air.
Two points to consider when finding these sub-stories.
- Be creative and have fun doing it.
- Always tell the truth.
One final point toward personal development to consider.
- Learning to create truthful stories from a larger story, I think, is good for the soul and good when developing one’s coping and resiliency skills. I.e. when you hit a bump in the road, you don’t give up or turn around. You dig deep and find another way to get what you need and make your life happen.
Time to lace up those dance shoes ;)